New Report: 5 Ways Solitary Confinement is Especially Harmful to Women

10714112_7945d6522a_s images1199304030_80_80 

Published on Alternet (http://www.alternet.org) Whole Article:

http://www.alternet.org/new-report-5-ways-solitary-confinement-especially-harmful-women?

 New Report: 5 Ways Solitary Confinement is Especially Harmful to Women
Continue reading

Advertisements

Britain is going backwards on violence against women

 

Domestic violence

Britain is going backwards on violence against women

Victims of domestic abuse face devastating funding cuts, while their plight is ignored by our media and political elite

Owen Jones

The Guardian, Sunday 30 March 2014 19.30 BST

Domestic violence
‘Violence against women is a pandemic, and needs to be treated as such.’ Photograph: Garry Weaser

When Margaret Thatcher’s government took on the miners 30 years ago, she confronted an enemy that was organised: they had collective strength and a voice. The sides were not equal, but the miners’ strike could nonetheless be described as a “war” of sorts. Many of the targets of this government, on the other hand, are deeply fragmented, rarely seen or heard and often airbrushed out of existence by our media and political elite. Women who face domestic violence and abuse are just one chilling example.

To understand the attack on some of Britain’s most vulnerable women, let’s take East Sussex as an example. A year ago, the discretionary social fund – which provided crisis loans to cover living expenses for people in desperate circumstances as well as community care grants – was scrapped across Britain. It was replaced by a local welfare assistance fund that was devolved to local authorities, but with around £150m less cash. It was up to councils to set up their own initiatives, and Conservative-run East Sussex county council set up a support scheme that could help, among many others, women fleeing abusive partners.

Because there is less money to go around, the terms for getting help are stringent indeed, underlining just how desperate recipients are. An applicant has to prove that they cannot have their need met any other way – for example, through relatives or friends – and that there is a “significant risk” to their health and safety. A woman fleeing a partner can get in touch and, by the next day, Hastings Furniture Service – a local charity that helps crisis-hit households – will deliver the necessary goods.

“Women who have been abused, who have lived in a refuge, often have to leave with nothing,” says the charity’s chief executive Naomi Ridley. They are already demoralised and lack self-esteem; their abusive partner may tell them they will have no financial security if they leave. Women who have children particularly fear walking out and ending up in a home with no amenities. On average, it takes seven attempts for a woman to leave an abusive relationship, and financial worry is one reason it can be so difficult. But, through the support scheme, Ridley’s charity can give women independence. One woman with two children fled an abusive relationship and, after getting in touch, was given bedding, a cooker and a fridge so that she could provide meals for her family.

Next year, this £347m local welfare assistance fund will be scrapped. If councils wish to maintain these services, it will have to come out of their core grants – but given the continuing cuts to local authorities, the money will simply not be there. And if you think it is just the left in uproar, think again – even many of the government’s own supporters are appalled. The Conservative head of the Local Government Association, Sir Merrick Cockell, has said that the fund provides “crucial support to people facing personal crises in their lives, from help paying the rent to putting food on the table”, describing the move as “extremely disappointing”. Conservative-run West Sussex county council calls it a “cut too far”. But the government is counting on the victims being too silent – or ignored – for anybody to notice.

The scale of domestic violence in this country is frightening. The national charity Women’s Aid estimates that 1.2 million women experienced it last year, and that one in four women will suffer it in their lifetime. Up to two women are killed by a current or ex-partner each week, and though most incidents are not reported, police receive a domestic violence-related phone call every 30 seconds. Violence against women is a pandemic, and needs to be treated as such. But the impending scrapping of the local welfare assistance fund comes on top of other attacks on women facing domestic violence.

In the first two financial years of this government, there was a 31% cut in funding to the domestic violence and sexual abuse sector. In a survey of 2013, Women’s Aid reported that over 100 specialist posts were lost, and that nearly a third of organisations working with women experiencing domestic violence expected to be hit by further local authority cuts. They picked a day at random in April, and found that 155 women with 103 children had to be turned away from refuges across Britain because of a lack of resources. As the charity’s chief executive, Polly Neate, has put it: “We have reached a crisis, and the result will be more women and children killed and hurt through domestic violence.”

Indeed, even before the local welfare assistance fund disappears, councils are already making cuts. Earlier this year, Worcestershire county council cut funding for domestic abuse services by 50%. Devon’s authority has cut its own financial support by 42%; and local charity Stop Abuse for Everyone had its funding entirely withdrawn this year and the refuge it runs faces closure. Children suffering from domestic violence are suffering, too, with at least 35 support services for children being shut across England since this government came to power.

Cuts to legal aid are also having a devastating effect on women suffering domestic violence. If domestic abuse victims want help, they now have to meet a series of tough conditions: for example, in many cases they have to provide a doctor’s letter, costing £75 – money many of these women simply do not have. Following a damning report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, we know that the police are systematically failing women facing domestic violence, with just eight of 43 forces judged to respond well. The safety of women is being imperilled by a state that is incapable of protecting them.

Violence against women is a national crisis, and it needs struggle, resources and determination to overcome. Women’s voices, of course, need to be at the forefront of this campaign. But men have to speak out in solidarity, too, and to confront a culture within their own ranks that treats women as subordinate and as sexual objects. Britain is now going backwards. The support for women who already struggle with the unbearably difficult process of leaving an abusive partner is being stripped away. Women will be psychologically damaged, physically injured and even killed as a result. The government must surely hope this will all be silent, below the radar, ignored by the media. It must not happen.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/mar/30/britain-violence-against-women-domestic-abuse-funding-cuts/print

And there are people still in darkness…

10714112_7945d6522a_s

None Of Us Are Free – If One Of Us Is Chained

By Solomon Burke

Video Solomon Burke – None of us are free: http://youtu.be/cou_qZjc_yI via @YouTube
Video Song by lynyrd skynyrd http://youtu.be/M0N3oRXzaz8

And there are people still in darkness,
And they just can’t see the light.
If you don’t say it’s wrong then that says it right.
We got try to feel for each other, let our brother’s know that we care.
Got to get the message, send it out loud and clear.

Lyrics

Well you better listen my sister’s and brothers,
‘Cause if you do you can hear
There are voices still calling across the years.
And they’re all crying across the ocean,
And they’re cryin across the land,
And they will till we all come to understand.

None of us are free.
None of us are free.
None of us are free, if one of us are chained.
None of us are free.

And there are people still in darkness,
And they just can’t see the light.
If you don’t say it’s wrong then that says it right.
We got try to feel for each other, let our brother’s know that we care.
Got to get the message, send it out loud and clear.

None of us are free.
None of us are free.
None of us are free, if one of us are chained.
None of us are free.

It’s a simple truth we all need, just to hear and to see.
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.
Now I swear your salvation isn’t too hard too find,
None of us can find it on our own. (On our own)
We’ve got to join together in sprirt, heart and mind.
So that every soul who’s suffering will know they’re not alone.

Oh, none of us are free.
None of us are free, yo
None of us are free, if one of us are chained.
None of us are free.

If you just look around you,
Your gonna see what I say.
Cause the world is getting smaller each passing day. (Passing day)
Now it’s time to start making changes,
And it’s time for us all to realize,
That the truth is shining real bright right before our eyes. (Before our eyes)

None of us are free.
None of us are free.
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

Oh, none of us are free.
None, none, none of us (None of us are free)
Oh, none one of us
(None of us are free, if one of us is chained) Well, well,
Well, once again

(None of us are free) None of us are free
(None of us are free) None of us are free
(None of us are free, if one of us is chained) One of us, none of us, one of us

(None of us are free) Lord, have mercy
(None of us are free) Oh, let me save you
(None of us are free, if one of us is chained)
If one of us is chained, none of us are free.
Well, I gotta tell about it

(None of us are free) Oh, ma ma ma
(None of us are free) Ma ma Lord
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

None of us, none of us, none of us are free.
None of us are free.
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

None of us are free.
None of us are free, no
None of us are free, (if one of us is chained), oh, Lord
(None of us are free) oh, Lord

None of us are free.
(None of us are free)
None of us are free, if one of us is chained.
None of us are free.

None Of Us Are Free – If One Of Us Is Chained
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article8199.htm

Domestic abuse: over 50,000 in UK at risk of murder or serious injury

The Guardian home

Greater Manchester police is under investigation over the way it handled domestic violence complaints from three women before they were killed by their ex-partners, including Linzi Ashton (above). Photograph: Greater Manchester Police/PA

The number of women and children deemed at high risk of being murdered or seriously injured by their partners or ex-partners in England and Wales exceeds 50,000, figures obtained by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary reveal.

In a report that heavily criticises the police for alarming and unacceptable weaknesses in the way it deals with domestic abuse, the Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC), has obtained figures which have previously been hidden, detailing the scale of the epidemic of violence against women and children.

Every force in England and Wales has to assess victims of domestic abuse for their level of risk, with those at the highest risk considered to be in imminent danger of being killed or seriously harmed. Two women are killed a week in domestic attacks in England and Wales.

Zoe Billingham, the HMIC inspector who carried out the six-month review of how police in England and Wales deal with domestic violence, published on Thursday, obtained figures from 33 out of 43 forces which reveal 57,900 individuals – the vast majority of whom are women – were assessed by police as at the highest risk. But the HMIC said the inconsistency of the data – with 10 forces unable to provide figures – on the numbers of individuals in different levels of risk raised concerns over the police’s ability to protect the public.

An attempt by the Guardian last month to obtain the numbers of women and children deemed at the highest risk of violence, through Freedom of Information requests, resulted in a patchy and diffident response. Ten forces did not respond to the request, seven refused to provide the information, and the remaining 26 provided a mere snapshot of the individuals they believed were at greatest risk. The data obtained showed that 10,952 women were at the highest risk, said at the time to be a small fraction of the true picture.

As forces across England and Wales addressed the highly critical report and recommendations made by Tom Winsor, Her Majesty’s chief inspector of constabulary, some senior officers hit out at the damning nature of his findings.

The report said the police were still treating domestic violence as less important than other crimes, prioritising it on paper but not in practice. It criticised everything from a police culture in which responding officers displayed poor attitudes to vulnerable victims, to serious gaps in the training of officers around domestic violence, shortcomings in basic investigative procedures and failures of leadership and supervision.

Peter Fahy, chief constable of Greater Manchester, whose force was heavily criticised by HMIC and ordered to develop an immediate action plan, attacked the inspectorate for what he said was an unfair report. Fahy said in a letter to the Guardian that he and his peers had “considerable frustrations” at the nature of the HMIC report, which did not address the societal nature of the problem of domestic violence and the need for a joined-up response with other agencies.

He said: “The College of Policing, which represents all professionals in policing, asked for this to be a multi agency inspection, with a far wider remit, but this was ignored. Cases of domestic abuse invariably include a far wider range of social issues, shown by the fact that only about 30% of cases result in a recorded crime.

“There is a significant overlap between domestic abuse and complex dependency issues and with those involved in gangs and organised crime. Even if police can remove an abuser from a victim’s life they may well live in a community where they will face pressure from their families or criminal networks.”

Fahy’s force was criticised by the HMIC over key weaknesses in its system of dealing with victims, with the report saying urgent action was required. Winsor’s inspection team said GMP focused on dealing with offenders and that insufficient attention was paid to safeguarding victims.

The force is also facing three investigations by the independent police complaints commission over the way it handled domestic violence complaints from three women – Linzi Ashton, Farkhanda Younis and Rania Alayed – before they were killed by their partners or ex-partners. It has been heavily criticised in the past over its actions in the domestic violence murders of Clare Wood and Katie Boardman; both women who had contact with police before they were killed.

But Fahy said his officers dealt with an average of 170 domestic abuse incidents every day and “become weary that the wider system is not dealing with the underlying issues or that society is not taking this more seriously.”

Fahy said the legal system needed overhauling and he wanted to see the creation of specialist magistrates to deal with those assessed as at highest risk of serious violence at the hands of their partners. Forces should be able to take their high risk cases to the magistrate within 24 hours, he said, whether or not the victim wanted to make a complaint.

“The police can always do better and comply more closely with the processes but it has to be acknowledged that there are fundamental flaws in the way the wider system safeguards the very vulnerable which is why so many are so reluctant to come forward.”